Sunday pick: Youth Orchestras of Fresno offers Memorial Day weekend concert (May 26)

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra

Mexican composer Juan Pablo Contreras will be on hand for a Fresno performance of one of his works.

If your Memorial Day weekend is turning out a little wetter than you anticipated, never fear: There’s a big, exciting classical music event happening indoors.

All 250 young musicians who make up the three ensembles of Youth Orchestras of Fresno, plus another 40 players from the group’s Access Violin Program, will be performing in a free Youth Music Extravaganza concert (4 p.m. Sunday, May 26, Saroyan Theatre. Admission is free, though a $15 donation for adults is suggested).

The young musicians will be joined by two acclaimed guest artists:

• Indianapolis Violin Competition gold medal winner Richard Lin, who will perform the Khachaturian violin concerto.

•  Mexican composer Juan Pablo Contreras, whose work “Mariachitlán” will enjoy its Fresno premiere. Contreras, whose career is igniting these days, was recently named Sound Investment Composer for 2019-2020 by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (LACO).


(Side note: I wrote an extensive feature about Contreras and the Sound Investment program for the LACO program book a few months ago.)

A pre-concert talk with host Benjamin Boone and the two guests starts at 3 p.m.

On the program in addition to Contreras and Khachaturian will be George Gershwin’s Cuban Overture and the Danzas from Estancia by Argentinian composer Alberto Ginastera. These Danzas will be performed en masse by all the musicians present—some as young as 5!

Music Director Thomas Loewenheim will conduct.

Cool bits: Organizers tell me that in a lovely turn of fate, this concert will be sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Fresno. This is the original Fresno Kiwanis Club, chartered in 1921. They were the founding sponsors of what is now called Youth Orchestras of Fresno but was then known as the Kiwanis Youth Orchestra.

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Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

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